Giovanni Palmucci holds a few of his favorite drawings. The Linden second-grader will have his work on display at the Culture Crawl art, film and music festival in Rahway on Saturday. He will be the youngest artist on display.
By Gary Miller
Artists of all types will be on display at Saturday’s Culture Crawl art, music and film festival in Rahway. The youngest of all will be a 7-year-old prodigy from School 1 in Linden.
But second-grader Giovanni Palmucci doesn’t want to be thought of as a novice.
“I’ve been drawing since I was 3, so …” Giovanni said.
Giovanni’s work will be on display from 1 to 6 near the rec center in downtown Rahway. He will also be doing drawings on site and some of his work will be for sale, with everything priced under $20.
Seven years old may seem young to be on exhibit already, but Giovanni has already put years of effort into developing his craft and his style.
“Just from the beginning in kindergarten, he was really very detailed and he really enjoyed it,” said Zuleyka Acevedo, Giovanni’s art teacher at School 1. “I’ve never see a kindergartner who’s so interested in art.
“In first grade, every week I would come into his class and he’d always have a sketch book. He’d always have new pictures to show me. He’d have drawings stacked up. He just took his interest and went with it. And it’s gotten even better.”
“He’s just taken something that he loves and he focuses so much. He’s just a fantastic kid.”
Giovanni says he’s done “thousands” of drawings, and with the mind of an artist he remembers many of his favorites off the top of his head. Like the girl with yellow flowers in her hair; the woman whose hair he just had to change from red to brown; the picture of his teacher, Michelle Padovano, which he messed up and had to start over; the zombie bride; the emoji girl — but there are so many that he loses track.
Angela Palmucci, Giovanni’s mom, is a bit more conservative in her estimate of how many drawings Giovanni has done, putting the total around 150.
“It’s something he loves doing,” she said. “He’d rather draw than watch TV or play videogames. He loves drawing and expressing himself. It’s something he has a passion for and he’s so good at.
“He sees things a lot differently than your average kid.”
Even so, it’s pretty rare for a second-grader to have his work put on exhibit. So how did he pull that off?
Giovanni’s aunt, Susan Palmucci, thought so much of his work that she created a Facebook page for it. One of her friends saw the drawings and suggested the Culture Crawl.
“I never heard of it before, but after inquiring about it I was definitely onboard,” Susan Palmucci said. “The table space for the event is free. Giovanni has been working very hard for months to complete some of his best artwork.”
Giovanni said he likes to work with markers best and is very proud of his 219-marker set: “I like all those fancy colors.” He has worked with paint before but not very often. “Once in a blue,” he said.
And don’t try to get him to use canvas. He tried that once. “Oh, my God, I was a nervous wreck,” he said.
Nevertheless, the drawings keep coming.
“He draws everywhere,” said Susan Palmucci. “We were in Panera one day and he took out a notebook and started drawing.”
Art is so ingrained in Giovanni that he dressed up as Leonardo da Vinci last year for Halloween, complete with curly mustache, beret and a palette of paints
“I think he’s amazing,” said Susan Palmucci. “Definitely his passion. It’s more than a hobby.
“People are going to remember that name one day,”
Palmucci, she means, not da Vinci.
Here are a few selections of Giovanni’s work as well as him dressed as Leonardo da Vinci for Halloween: